Monthly Archives: April 2014

Slow Lane, Fast lane and finding a balance

I ran across an article that made me pause. It was written about a young woman, a child really, who was angered by how slow people walked in the mall. The article in Elle has me thinking about my own responses to people who are “slow” whether in the mall or the airport or driving on the street. The young woman is quoted as saying “I am incredibly disappointed by people walking around your shopping centre—it annoys me so bad I want to scream, You should stop people walking slow as people are in a rush for work and this could cause people being late. It is dangerous because if someone bumped into you that person will fall over.”
“Will you ever tell people not to walk so slow? If you do this for me I will be delighted— please do it.”

I have often been irritated or “irked” by people walking slow, taking their time, looking at labels or doing whatever they are doing when I am in a hurry and want to just get in and out. I actually understand where this young woman is coming from….at least I did until recently. When I broke my foot and was in a cast for five weeks, and now in an air boot, I am one of those “slow” people. It isn’t my choice, I prefer moving fast and getting where I am going. My foot has slowed me down whether I want to be “slow” or not.

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In the last few weeks, Andrew and I have been going to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings and he has been pulling up to drop me off, before he goes to park. It takes me a bit to get the cast out of the car and get the door shut so he can park. The last couple of weeks cars have peeled out around us as I have gotten out of the car. It made me feel, well bad. I am sorry to have slowed the cars behind us down. I move as fast as I can and I am pretty sure the delay wasn’t more than about 30 seconds, still, the feeling of being the “slow” one is not a positive one.

I am aware, that so often as the “fast” one, I have not been as patient or as kind to those who had trouble moving. I think about the times my mother struggled to move and we were at the mall or in a restaurant and she would apologize for moving so slow, I and others would say “it’s okay” and mostly we meant it.  And sometimes, if I am honest, we were just being nice.

I am not proud, particularly as I see how the speed of life sometimes overtakes my sensitivity to what is important.  The idea that there should be fast lanes and slow lanes at shopping malls so that those who live in the fast lane won’t be inconvenienced by those who are slower for whatever reason hit me hard.  Obviously “faster” means “more important” and “getting more done” and “being productive” while slower means “unproductive” and “in the way” and “inconvenient” for those who travel more quickly.

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While not numbering myself in that group, those who tend to be “slower” are the most vulnerable in our society: small children who sometimes have trouble “keeping up”, the elderly who are doing their best to “not be a burden”, those who have mobility issues either through disease or accident or being born that way.  Most people do not want to be a problem or burden or to slow anyone down.  The truth is that most of us do at one point or another.

Where did I ever get the idea that faster was better?  That people who moved slower should get out of my way because somehow it was more courteous of them to respond to my need for speed?  Where did that young woman get that idea?  Where did all of us lose the sense of kindness to those who might have more difficulties in life?  It’s as if we have this belief that people who move slowly do so just to annoy and irritate.

Part of my sadness and embarrassment is my participation is that thinking and behavior.  What hardships and humiliations have I dumped on people in my hurry and need to be “fast.”  It is true for thinking fast, walking fast, moving fast  and sometimes being “irked” at those who are not keeping up.  Not only does that make me pretty insensitive, it means I miss things because I am going so fast.  In the midst of missing things, I certainly could be capable of doing the kind of harm I wouldn’t want to do.

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I don’t know what will happen when my air boot comes off, I suspect as soon as I am able I will be back to walking and moving quickly.  What I pray is I won’t be back to being irritated and insensitive to those who for many reasons take the world a little more slowly.  I pray I will check my behavior in the fast lane, so those in the slow lane are not humiliated, or harmed or hurt and embarrassed.

I am graced to serve.

 

 

 

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April 28, 2014 · 12:53 pm

The Generation Away

You read so many negative things about the next generation, I thought these were powerful words about what the next generations has to offer.

The Kansas Expatriate

“Let’s take all the pictures we can take and let’s make all the memories we can make, for the generation away.”

–Lady Antebellum

Consider the following list of activities for my nieces and nephews:

–One works at a place called Better World Books, a non “big retail” book store with a huge on line inventory whose profit is used trying to increase literacy around the world. I got the tour on a recent visit. (www.betterworldbooks.com)
–One left a job in a small Kansas town to move to Kansas City and pursue bigger and better paying adventure. Before he left he helped start a local business using an existing airplane hanger
–One nephew’s significant other took a citizenship oath and is now, officially, an American
–One is coaching bowling and football while teaching high school and, quite frankly, values
–One worked in an ice cream and hamburger restaurant…locally owned

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Good Friday

Good Friday is always a day of pondering for me.  I have a few rituals that I engage in each year during the final week of Lent, called Holy Week.  I ALWAYS listen to Jesus Christ Superstar ( the original cast) and Godspell ( the original cast recording) and then add some other music that seems appropriate for these last days of Lent.

After the evening Tenebrae service I have another tradition.  I watch the movie Jesus Christ Superstar.  I know it is SOOO 1970’s, but it has been my tradition for many years.  When it first came out, it was shown at the midnight movie each year on Good Friday.  After that, I searched for it in video stores and finally purchased my own copy.

My poor children were, of course, subject to this every year.  I am happy to say my daughter continues the tradition of listening to this “holy week” music.

This year, however I came across this piece of music.  It is from the Psalm Project.  It is a new version of Psalm 22 put to music.  That psalm is difficult at best to read, but this musical rendition is hauntingly beautiful.  It is a sign of hope for me that Jesus knew what it felt like to feel abandoned, betrayed and all alone.  On this Good Friday, I share this piece music with faith for presence, peace and new life promised in Easter.

Psalm 22

On this Good Friday, I am graced to serve. 

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Holy Thursday

On this night begins what is called in some circles the “Triduum.”  Basically the word means “three days,” and this particular three days begins the evening of Maundy or Holy Thursday.  Another churchy word, “maundy” comes from a latin word meaning commandment.  According to the Gospel of John, on this night Jesus washes his disciples feet like a servant and commands them to “love one another.”  

In all traditions, this is the night that Jesus gave us the “last supper” the “sacrament of Holy Communion” or the “eucharist.”  This last meal that Jesus ate with his disciples, he ended it with new meaning given the bread and cup.  His followers are called to “remember him” when they eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

These three days cover Thursday evening, usually Christians gather to remember that last supper, continues into Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion and burial.  Then Holy Saturday is a day of waiting as Jesus laid in tomb.  The final day is Easter Sunday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and new life and hope.

Today, I leave you with a holy communion song, a bit dated, but a reminder that Crhisti

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV_kFlsKrQU

I am graced to serve.

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Tax Day and Tuesday of Holy Week

Earlier today I did something old fashioned, I wrote a “check” for my estimated taxes for both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for the Kansas Revenue Service.  It happens four times a year.  Earlier, I sent money to pay for the taxes I still owed to the federal government and to the state.  Usually I am pretty good at estimating and in the last few years received a refund.  As many know, the tax schedule changed for 2013 and more taxes were owed and my husband and I owed more than we had anticipated.

If you are hoping to read a negative post about how awful taxes are and how much we give to the government, you might as well stop reading now.  Every tax check I write or send I say a prayer of thanks that I can be part of something bigger than myself.  I am grateful that I can join those who have gone before me to take care of those less fortunate through food, housing, and medical care.  I am grateful for police officers, fire fighters, ambulance, roads, and all other services provided for me by the taxes I pay.

You see, I may not be who you think I am.  I am in many ways one of the faces of welfare you never see.  When my mother was forty years old, no training, could not drive a car, had four children and a husband (my father) who was not providing, she called upon my grandparents to pick us up and take us someplace safe.  I was young, most of what was happening did not become clear until I was much older.  All I knew at the time was that my grandparents, put my mother and her four children in a station wagon with whatever else could fit and moved us from Bloomington, Minnesota to Wichita, Kansas.  

There, my seventy year old grandparents lived with their only daughter, their only child and four grandchildren for the next five years as my mother learned to drive and go back to school.  We were on a medical card, what was then Aid to Dependent Children and depended on other people to pay their property taxes so we could attend school and pay their other taxes so we had medical care and money to pay the bills.

I learned a great deal from my grandparents about loss leaders, coupon cutting and making do.  I wore some of the worst clothes and the ugliest glasses because the medical card would only allow a choice of one or two frames and most were out dated.  We went to an old fashioned dentist who gave free service, but didn’t believe in novocaine to deaden the gums before filling cavities.

I share this not so that people can feel sorry for me, but because sometimes people need a face to put with words like “welfare mom” and “welfare kids.”  Sometimes I need something more than just words to understand why I do what I do.  I know that not all our tax dollars do what they should do, there are things I wouldn’t support if I had choice and I am not thrilled with the way my tax dollars are spent.  What I do know, is that the rhetoric around the poor, the hungry, the unemployed and those on the bottom get pretty personal for me.  As one who has been on the receiving end, I am grateful for a job and a home and an opportunity to provide for those with less, just like someone provided for me all those years ago. 

I found this sign on facebook two years ago….I think it puts in perspective some of what I feel:

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On this Tuesday of Holy Week and on tax day, I am more aware of how Jesus challenged his followers to pay attention to those who need the most.  He fed the hungry, healed the sick and offered hope to those who needed it.  Taxes is one small way I can participate in helping those less fortunate.  There are many others of course, but as one who has been helped, I am truly thankful that I can return the favor.

I remain, Graced to Serve.

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Monday of Holy Week

I, like many, were truly saddened and horrified by the shooting yesterday at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas.  http://www.kansascity.com/2014/04/13/4957486/one-reported-dead-in-shooting.html  How in the name of anything holy someone could do this continues to haunt me.  It is not just this act of violence, it is the school stabbings in Pennsylvania last week, school shootings, bombs exploding in market places, and relentless acts of hatred that scroll across my newsfeed everyday.

The shooting yesterday is much closer to home physically and emotionally.  Knowing two children who were at the Jewish Community Center during the shooting, knowing the church and several of the pastors of the United Methodist grandfather and grandson who were killed certainly strikes a chord of how small this world really is.  The very fact it happened at the beginning of Holy Week for Christians and the day before Passover begins for Jews makes the act all the more senseless and hateful.  I suppose that hateful could be the very definition of “senseless.”  

So, here I sit on Monday of Holy Week knowing I can not make sense of this and yet feeling the need to find the presence of God in the midst of it.  Today’s readings from the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures are Isaiah 42: 1-7 and Psalm 27: 1,2,3, 13-14.  The first passage talks about God’s servant establishing justice “without shouting or crying” but would do God’s work and to remind the servant and perhaps God’s people that they are to be a light to the nations.”  The second is one of my favorites: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.  Whom shall I fear?….wait for the Lord and be strong and let your heart take courage.”  In the midst of the Psalm the author does refer to the evildoers, but reminds us that we are to have faith and that we will see the goodness of God.

This evening, Passover begins for my Jewish brothers and sisters.  It is a remembrance and celebration of liberation from oppression and slavery.  How uncomfortably real that this year, my friends must still look for freedom from oppression and hatred and prejudice.  It saddens my heart and spirit that many of the Passover observances will be surrounded by a police presence to make sure no one is harmed.

For Christians Holy Week is the journey of Jesus to the cross.  There is betrayal on many levels, fear, unfair arrest, a quick trial and an execution of an innocent man.  Jesus on the cross offers forgiveness and grace when he could have screamed curses on those who deserted him and crucified him.  Jesus embodies love in the midst of hate, peace in the midst of violence and hope in the midst of despair.  

Faith is all that keeps us from hiding in times like these.  Faith is what gives us “courage” and keeps us steadfast.  Last evening, Sunday April 13, the daughter of the man and mother of the son who were shot and killed went to a prayer vigil and shared these words.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N1_qcUwTeQ

Her words are a witness to her faith and the strength that God gives to see us through the most horrible of tragedies.  May this week bring us that kind of faith, hope, comfort and peace.

I am graced to serve.

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In the midst of life: death, a few thoughts on Holy Week

In the funeral ritual at the graveside, these words are often spoken, “in the midst of life, we are in death, where does our help come?  Our help comes in the name of the Lord, who created the heavens and the earth.”  On the eve of Palm Sunday, I ponder these words anew. 

Ten days ago, a clergy colleague who has been ill for a long time died.  Reverend Burr Crickard was a man full of life and laughter and he brought that to everything he did.  The celebration of his life and spirit was held today.  Clergy and others from all over gathered to remember.  Not forty eight hours ago an acquaintance who was rapidly becoming a friend died unexpectedly in her sleep at the age of 50.  Every one who knew her is shocked and trying to wrap their heads around a loss that seems incomprehensible.  

Then I met with a family whose son and brother died of cancer last evening.  His service will be this week and from there, Andrew drove me to Garden Plain.  I hadn’t been to my mother’s grave since we buried her and I wanted her to have spring flowers.

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For Western Christians, tomorrow begins the most sacred week of the Christian year: Holy Week.  It begins with a parade and shouts of “Hosanna!  Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!”  It is exciting, thrilling and the crowds are on fire for Jesus.  Depending on the gospel you read, the religious and civic authorities are less than thrilled and begin to actively plan to stop this crazy uprising.  This roller coaster of a week begins with such highs and ends with betrayal, death and a borrowed grave.

“In the midst of life, we are in death.”  Those words have always been true.  We are in death, surrounded by death or the memory of death and the hard work of grieving and finding ways to be thankful.

Today it all seemed a bit too much.  And that feeling of “too much” is experienced by many on different days and in different ways.  Holy Week does not minimize death, betrayal, fear and grief.  Holy Week invites us to walk through that “valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil,” for God is with us.  God in Jesus stared down that path and walked it and leaned into the Spirit that strengthens and comforts.

On that night when Jesus offered bread and cup, he also offered his disciples an opportunity to pray with him and lean into God’s grace.  Mostly they fell asleep, but the invitation was given, more than once.  It is still given.

 Carrie Newcomer has a new album that includes a song “Abide” I think is perfect for this week and for the experience of life in the midst of death:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWxgvY5j0HY&list=PLlJ5xx87Syn0mZCTOL5vaSKSjuIombnz2

“Let us ponder the unknown, what is hidden and what’s whole, and finally learn to travel at the speed of our own souls….There are things I cannot prove and still somehow know…..You don’t have to be afraid, you don’t have to walk alone, I don’t know but I suspect it will be like home.”

Holy week in many ways is like home.  There are always events that don’t make sense, are not fair and yet, we do not have to be afraid, for some how, in some ways, when we get to where we are going, it will be like home.  As I prepare to lead worship over this next week, I do not intend to shrink for what lies before me, but attempt to walk not alone, but with the Christ who walks before and beside.

I am graced to serve.

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